8. Immigration. It doesn’t matter who gets elected, John McCain or Barack Obama. Both are much more immigrant-friendly than George Bush. Before W., we could reliably anticipate about 1 million illegal immigrants arriving each year, but that number’s gotten a big haircut, in part explaining why Florida, Arizona, and California have been particularly hard hit by excess home inventory. Look for that to change, triggering an influx of new immigrants, and home buyers, starting on Inauguration Day and building as we head into mid-2009.
9. The biggest problem areas are now restricted to those three states—Florida, Arizona, and California. The rest of the country has begun to stabilize or is deteriorating at a slower pace than six months ago. The most problematic markets have been cordoned off, limiting the collateral damage.
10. Finally, the absolute worst areas, those with the highest foreclosures, like Bradenton, Florida, and the Central Valley of California, bottomed this summer. The first to fall are the first to return. If they’re headed upward, the rest of the country will follow.
You can see these ten reasons playing out in the stock market, as the stocks of the major home builders—Toll, Centex, KB Homes, D.R. Horton, and Pulte Homes—flattened out in July and have been climbing since. These stocks peaked and started dropping nine months before the housing market began its tumble. If they predicted the top nine months before it happened, why shouldn’t we believe they’re forecasting the bottom nine months from now? The big home builders’ stock prices have already made major moves north, but I expect more upside from KB Home and Centex, as they still have lots of unsold homes in inventory and decent enough balance sheets to hold out until we reach the bottom. For those who want to roll the dice, I suggest buying Lennar, the home builder that pulled its horns in last, took a beating, and could be poised for a strong recovery. Toll’s already risen too much to recommend, and I’d steer clear of Hovnanian, which I think is still in too much trouble to touch right now.
Of all the areas I expect to boom next June, New York looks to be the most attractive because buyers from overseas will flock to it—even more than they already have. Just as the dollar appears to have bottomed, European real estate is starting to collapse. Foreigners will flee to this market as a safe haven, one that has already experienced the decline that they are just beginning to see. If you’re a seller, hold tight if you possibly can. You’re almost—almost—through the worst of the downslide. If you’re a buyer, use the time between now and next June to scout in which neighborhood you might want to buy. On June 29, call your broker.